PETA to DoD: Stop Using Animals for Medical Training

Image: PETA to DoD: Stop Using Animals for Medical Training (Peta.org; Paul J. Richards/AFP/Getty Images)

Wednesday, 03 Sep 2014 04:34 PM

By Andrea Billups

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People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals has turned its activist sights on the Defense Department, asking that all medical training on live animals be stopped, the Marine Corps Times reports.

The international animal rights group called on the military "to adhere to its own regulations" and use human simulators to teach aspiring medical personnel about trauma and field stress management, rather than animals such as sheep, pigs, and goats.

"Regulations require the DoD to use non-animal training methods whenever available — and clearly they are available," PETA's Justin Goodman, who leads its laboratory investigations wing, wrote in a letter to Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, the Times reports.

PETA, on its website, cites "horrific" studies on "more than 10,000 live animals that are shot, stabbed, mutilated and killed in cruel military training exercises."

It noted in its plea to Hagel that at least three research studies found humans were better than animals for training.

The Army as recently as November 2013 sought to limit the use of live animals when there were other alternatives, the Navy Times reported.

But According to Stars and Stripes, a report submitted to Congress from the Pentagon in April 2013 defended the practice, saying animals were needed for battlefield training.

"Premature removal of the live animal model from combat casualty training programs would likely degrade combat trauma care on the battlefield and would potentially increase warfighter fatalities from battlefield injuries," the report noted. "Absent high-fidelity medical simulators, the medical corps anticipates a diminished capacity to administer battlefield medical care in the short term until experience levels increase."

Like PETA, the Humane Society of the United States, in its fact sheets, notes that non-animal training is effective.

"Cutting-edge simulators provide the opportunity for students and military personnel to gain familiarity and comfort with medical procedures through unlimited repetition, the society notes.

"Given the differences between human and animal anatomy, the mannequins provide markedly improved anatomical and physiological realism when compared with live animals. In addition, the long-term cost savings are substantial compared to the use and care of live animals."

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